Transporter Treasure, 2003:
Lewis & Clark take up permanent residency in Lewiston

Editor's 2018 Note - This Transporter story won 2nd Place in the Idaho Press Club awards 15 years ago. The feature was written by Mel Coulter, former Transporter editor and resident of the Lewiston area before taking the ITD communication job in Boise:

Those horses running wild on the highway median east of Lewiston...

Relax. They really pose no threat to traffic. They are two-dimensional stationary statues, so lifelike they're mistaken for live animals.

It's been a rare day since the statues were installed that the Idaho State Police or Idaho Transportation Department hasn't received phone calls from motorists concerned about the potential traffic hazard.

David Govedare and Keith Powell, creators of the statues, take a degree of pride their artwork is confused with real horses. And they are gratified by the number of motorists who pull to the shoulder of the road to snap pictures.

The series of 17 steel statues and a trio of life-sized bronze statues of Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and Sacajawea will gain even more attention next week during their formal dedication.

The public event is planned Tuesday on a small, grassy plain beneath the Red Lion Hotel in Lewiston. The event, coordinated by the Lewiston Parks and Recreation Department, will begin at 2 p.m. and is expected to draw a crowd of 200-300, said director Lynn Moss.

The 17 roadside statues depict a Nez Perce encampment and the reunion of tribal members with the Corps of Discovery on their return from the Pacific Ocean in 1805. The bronze sculptures, created by the late Shirly Bothum, depict Lewis, Clark and Sacajawea on their westward journey after emerging from the Bitterroot Mountains.

The Idaho Transportation Department obtained federal highway enhancement funds to cover about 80 percent of the project's $610,000 as one of its contributions to the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial observance. The city of Lewiston provided local matching funds for the balance of the project.

M.L. Aibright & Sons of Lewiston was the project's general contractor.

Bothum, a well known artist from Joseph, Ore., was installing the Sacajawea statue in January when he was stricken with a fatal heart attack. Friends - including Steve Parks of Parks Bronze in Joseph -- rallied to complete installation of the last two statues (Lewis and Clark). In memory of their creator, both statues have remained wrapped since their installation.

The veil comes off Tuesday, which also is the national observance of Earth Day.

Moss said the intent was to dedicate the statues and the newly-landscaped Lewiston park nearby sometime in April, which the community celebrates as Arbor Month. Arbor Day is Friday, April 25. The ceremony also coincides with the final weekend of the community's highly acclaimed Dogwood Festival of the Lewis-Clark Valley.

Bothum's bronze statues are located at the base of the hill and across from Locomotive Park on U.S. 12. The park is being re-landscaped by David Evans and Associates of Spokane, Wash., at a cost of about $62,500. Approximately 200 new trees and some 1,800 shrubs and plants have been added to the park and the median east of Lewiston.

Govedare, a resident of Chewelah, Wash., and Powell, of Grand Coulee, collaborated to create the realistic looking steel statues. The former perhaps is best known for his series of statues depicting long-distance runners in Spokane's Riverfront Park. Both artists generously donated two additional statues to the collection along U.S. 12 and U.S. 95.

The series includes members of the Corps of Discovery on one side and the Nez Perce Tribe on the other as they reunite at a campsite. It also includes three grazing horses. The scene is designed to be viewed by the driving public, but increasingly, motorists are pulling over for closer looks. lTD and the state police are looking for ways to provide the best viewing without impeding traffic along the major east-west route.

Lewiston is home to a number of other statuettes. These were taken last week by D2's Dennis Lenz:

Published 07-27-18